Between 1850 and 1930, a remarkable migration took place. Approximately 80,000 women from rural villages in Spain embarked on a courageous journey across the treacherous Pyrenees mountain range in search of employment opportunities.
These brave women, affectionately referred to as “The Swallows”, played an indispensable role in the flourishing espadrille industries of southern France. The Swallows’ migration was driven by a combination of economic necessity and the desire to improve their lives.
They faced numerous challenges and dangers along their arduous path, including harsh weather conditions, steep terrains, and the constant threat of injury. Their sheer determination and resilience propelled them forward, enabling them to contribute significantly to the growth and success of the espadrille industry.
Today, their granddaughters are retracing the footsteps of these pioneering women, paying homage to their ancestors’ incredible journey. By retracing their paths, these descendants seek to honor the sacrifices and achievements of The Swallows, ensuring that their legacy remains alive and celebrated. This act of remembrance serves as a testament to the strength, courage, and enduring spirit of these extraordinary women who defied all odds for a better life.
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Top image: Thousands of Pyrenees mountain women, who became known as Swallows, migrated in search of a better life in southern France. Source: James Duffield Harding and J. Johnson – Charles Joseph Hullmandel (lithography) / Public Domain.